LE Magazine May 2000
Late-breaking brief news items to life extensionists,
as well as anyone interested in living a longer healthier life.
In The News
I3C May Prevent Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is the second most prevalent cancer in women, and the seventh most common cancer worldwide. Women on synthetic estrogen drugs and the estrogen blocker, tamoxifen, have a two- to four-fold increased risk of getting cervical cancer due to the growth-promoting properties of the drugs. In studies on mice, indole-3-carbinol (I3C) slashed the incidence of cancer from 76% to 8%. The mice, which are genetically prone to cervical cancer, were given about 15 times the amount of estrogen a woman would get with synthetic estrogen therapy. The amount of I3C was relatively low-approximately what you find in half a head of cabbage. At this amount, dysplasia (abnormal growth) was still present in most of the I3C mice, but it didn't progress to cancer except in two cases. The scientists suggest that this "worst-case scenario" (i.e., a lot of estrogen and a little I3C) might improve in the real world where estrogen exposure is generally less, and I3C can be adjusted upwards. They note that estrogen levels depend on several factors besides direct exposure, including diet and age. The mice that were used in the study are also prone to skin cancer. I3C stopped this type of cancer as well. The researchers theorize that I3C maintained the integrity of the p53 cancer suppressor gene. It also stops the growth of cells in the G1 phase and induces the self-destruction of abnormal cells. New research shows that I3C (indole-3-carbinol) stops cervical cancer in human cells and mice. Two separate studies confirm that I3C significantly changes the way cells metabolize estrogen. Both studies were done in cervical cancer caused by the human papilloma virus-16. This virus causes a powerful form of estrogen known as 16 -hydroxyestrone to be produced. I3C blocks 16 OHE, and replaces it with a friendlier estrogen known as 2-hydroxyestrone (2OHE). 2OHE levels are higher in women who don't get cancer: 16 OHE is higher in women who do. The research was done by scientists from Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Strang Cancer Research Laboratory, the University of California and Rutgers University.
Yuan F, et al. 1999. Anti-estrogenic activities of indole-3-carbinol in cervical cells: implication for prevention of cervical cancer. Anticancer Res 19:1673-80.
in L, et al. 1999. Indole-3-carbinol prevents cervical cancer in human papilloma virus type 16 (HPV16) transgenic mice. Cancer Res 59:3991-97.
|Thumbs up for testosterone gel |
The first gel to treat men with abnormally low testosterone levels has been approved for U.S. sale by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). According to Unimed Pharmaceuticals, AndroGel will be available by prescription this summer.
Low testosterone, or hypogonadism, affects about five million American men. It has been linked to diminished sexual interest, impotence, reduced lean body mass, decreased bone density and lowered mood and energy levels.
The new gel is seen as a more palatable alternative to address testosterone deficiency, as opposed to painful deep-muscle injections and irritating patches now available as treatments. AndroGel is a clear gel that men can topically apply once daily to the shoulders, upper arms or abdomen. It dries in a few minutes. The skin absorbs the testosterone, then releases it slowly into the bloodstream to raise hormone levels to normal. "We believe that doctors and men who are waiting for a more convenient testosterone treatment will regard AndroGel as a very attractive alternative to existing testosterone replacement therapy," said Robert E. Dudley, Unimed president and CEO.
Be advised, though: AndroGel should not be used in men with breast or prostate cancer. It is not intended for use by women. Pregnant women should avoid skin contact with the gel, as testosterone may cause fetal harm, the company says.
Clarifying The Link
Researchers may have a better understanding of why some studies link gum disease with an increased risk of heart disease. Gum disease, in which bleeding of the gums occurs, is characterized by gingivitis (red swollen gums), inflammation and a bone deterioration. It is primarily caused by bacteria. People with gum disease have been found to have a 25% increased risk for heart disease as opposed to those with healthy gums, but the cause of such a link evaded researchers. According to the February issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology, those who have gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, are also likely to have elevated blood levels of fibrinogen (clotting factor) and C-reactive protein (CRP) (inflammatory molecule). Dr. Tiejian Wu and colleagues of the State University of New York at Buffalo reported that gum disease may also be related to higher cholesterol levels.
In a study of more than 10,000 adults ages 17 and over, the link between cholesterol and gum disease was weaker than for fibrinogen and CRP. The authors concluded, however, that all three factors, i.e. fibrinogen, CRP and cholesterol, may contribute to an increased risk of heart disease.
This latest study suggests that periodontal disease might be responsible for bacteria's entry into or contact with the the blood stream, which could affect blood fats and clotting factors. According to the authors, the study may help explain the potential link between gum disease and an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.
American Journal of Epidemiology 2000;151:273-282.
Making sense of the jargon at clinicaltrials.gov
Researchers around the world are conducting thousands of studies aimed at improving treatment options for serious illnesses. Such trials are essential to medical progress: they enable physicians to better understand and therefore treat diseases with therapies that would otherwise go unused. Unfortunately, information on such studies has not always been made available to the general public, resulting in low turnout for participation. In fact, less than 5% of American patients who could benefit actually make it there. When the trials are publicized, the details can be overwhelming. Often, it is not obvious who is conducting the study and what is being placed under the microscope, making it difficult to determine if a trial might help or possibly hurt a patient. Potential candidates are faced with the task of deciphering scientific jargon. In an effort to cut through the babble and make information on such studies widespread, the National Library of Medicine put up a web-based registry to help unscramble the data. Clinicaltrials.gov, a service provided by the National Institutes of Health and developed by The National Library of Medicine, is a comprehensive database that posts all clinical trials for serious illnesses. It is a user-friendly site, offering explanations as to how the experiments work and what issues patients should address to ensure they understand the pros and cons. While there are risks involved when participating in any clinical trial, education is key to weighing the positives with the negatives. Clinicaltrials.gov addresses such issues and makes the information available to anyone with access to the Internet. Currently, the site contains over 4,000 clinical studies that are primarily sponsored by the National Institutes of Health. Additional studies from other Federal agencies and the pharmaceutical industry will be included in the near future.
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